Regan Lanning knows a thing or two about art inspiration.
The Weyburn artist and curator’s pottery exhibition of small portraits won Estevan’s Ev Johnson Memorial Adjudicated Art Show Saturday, with the art shown in the multipurpose room at the Estevan Leisure Centre in the late afternoon.
“They’re all pictures of myself or my family,” said Lanning, who manages three galleries in Weyburn. “I treat the pottery almost like a canvas. And then I paint upon it and then I do slip trailing as well. The blackout lines are done with clay slip which is basically like a clay sass that’s used primarily to glue pieces of pottery when they’re being built together.”
She tinted it black with their studio’s glaze and then squeezed it out onto the drawings, which she does herself. Lanning found herself inspired by family, relationships and mental health.
“My background is in portraiture so I think marrying the two together was only a matter of time before I got there,” said Lanning. “The images all come from photographs that I’ve captured myself, so there’s a certain intimacy which is inherent in the fact that mom or wife or myself is taking that photo, so there’s a certain level of trust those subjects have in me. Then (I’m) putting that down on clay and trying not to lose that intimacy.”
Even with this recognition, Lanning isn’t done with these pieces of art. She’ll be breaking them and putting them back together using a Japanese technique called kintsugi.
“It uses gold to kind of put the pieces back together, so that kind of pushes the metaphor of relationships and fragility even further, in that those cracks would be visual representations of emotional traumas or betrayals that happened in relationships.”
Lanning, unable to be at similar art shows in Weyburn due to her position as curator, said that by the time she’s showing in Estevan again, those pieces will have reflected the changes.
The show was adjudicated by Alison Norlen, who herself had an exhibition recently at the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum and created an ice cream cone sculpture at the Estevan Fair earlier this year. Norlen admitted that her adjudication was coloured by who she is as an artist herself.
“Even in my teaching … one of the things I advocate more than a finished product is exploration,” Norlen said. “And if you encourage people to explore, to take a risk and try to find something out of their own box, you may not end up with something that’s 100 per cent perfect as an end result, or you may end up with something that’s not yet formed, or something that’s in a process of going somewhere.
“What I like to imagine is what you’re looking at is a frozen moment in time. And that you’re looking at somebody’s exploration as a fragment of a much larger picture.”
While announcing Lanning’s win, Norlen said there were a lot of art that was a very close second place. But Lanning stood out.
“I’m going to contradict myself a bit and say that was a little bit more show-ready than some of the other candidates, and it was chosen for that specific reason,” Norlen said.
“But I’m equally excited when I’m seeing somebody stepping aside from what they normally do. A lot of our discussion today was about work that was at a certain point where it could veer left, or veer right or it could go backwards or do all these kinds of things. I’m an advocate to the process.”